DRP leader anticipates divergences of opinion within governing coalition

Leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali yesterday said that he expected to see divergences appear within the government’s seven party coalition, local newspaper Haveeru has reported.

Speaking at the opening of the DRP’s new headquarters, Thasmeen said that he expected all parties to field separate candidates in the next presidential elections.

“We believe that different candidates would represent the various political parties of the coalition government in the election. However, we must all agree to sustain the current government till 2013 to ensure that the people are provided with the fundamental services and benefits from a government,” Thasmeen told Haveeru.

Minivan News was unable to reach either Thasmeen or his deputy leaders Ibrahim Shareef or Dr Abdulla Mausoom for comment.

Thasmeen argued that the coalition was formed in an abrupt manner and so differences of opinion were likely to emerge.

Thasmeen’s comments also made mention of the DRP’s motivations for joining the governing coalition. The DRP leader said the main reason the party joined the government was to ensure the protection of services to the public.

“If the functioning of the government was compromised at a time when the provision of services to the people had already been hindered and the system was facing major challenges, the people would be plunged into an increasingly dire situation,” Thasmeen is quoted as saying.

Deputy Leader of the DRP, Ibrahim Shareef previously told Minivan News that the provision of public service was one of the party’s core values which were not to be compromised, even if this meant going against the rest of the coalition.

Thasmeen also took the opportunity yesterday to reassert his party’s opposition to proposals made in the Majlis’s Financial Committee to reform the the Aasandha healthcare scheme which is set to vastly exceed its budget in 2012.

The Financial Committee is currently dominated by parties aligned to the government.

When asked by Minivan News if there were any policies other than opposition to the previous Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that united the ruling coalition, President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza said he had no comment to make.

Thasmeen last week spoke out against the bill proposed by the MPs Ahmed Ilham of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Riyaz Rasheed of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) to withdraw the Maldives from the Commonwealth.

Thasmeen was reported as being disappointed that the coalition had not been properly consulted before the bill had been submitted and promised “categorically” that his party would not support the bill.

At that time, Abbas said that he was happy that the coalition was strong: “It shows that even on issues on which we disagree, we can work together. That’s what being in a coalition is all about.”

Additionally, Thasmeen said that, within the coalition, it was only his party and the DQP that had specifically pledged to work with one another.

“We have an agreement with Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) that we would function jointly. However, the rest of the political parties in the government do not have such an agreement to work together,” Haveeru reports.

DQP leader Dr Hassan Saeed was not responding at time of press.

The governing coalition currently controls 45 of 77 seats in the People’s Majlis, 15 of which belong to the DRP. The remainder are held by the MDP.